Tall tales with Lee Child

The best-selling thriller writer is just fine with Tom Cruise taking on his beloved character, Jack Reacher.

Tom Cruise is one of the biggest movie stars in the entire world. If he wants to take your book and turn it into a movie -- as well as cast himself as the star -- it's a gift from the gods. He has the power to make anything happen.

 

But the one thing Cruise doesn't have is height. That's a big problem when you're supposed to be portraying Jack Reacher, the epically popular character of the Lee Child novels, who is written as 6-foot-5, tipping the scales at 240 pounds with ice-blue eyes and dirty blond hair.

 

That does not quite translate into Tom Cruise.

 

"A lot of the book fans were so upset that they weren't going to get a facsimile of Reacher on the screen," says Jim Grant at a recent press conference to promote the new film "Jack Reacher," which is based off his ninth Reacher novel, "One Shot" (Lee Child is his pen name).

 

"Tom Cruise isn't a big guy, sure, but portraying the inside of Reacher was so much more important," Grant says. "It comes down to talent, of which there are a very limited number of people who have that level of talent and technique."

The uproar that someone who is 5-foot-7 was tapped to play Reacher -- a character who has helped to sell 60 million copies of books -- reached "Twilight"-message boards levels of hysteria. Grant noted that while he's happy his fans care so much, they have to understand that there aren't really any actors out there that size -- a fact he knows firsthand.

"In a hundred years, we haven't had an actor of that size. The camera can't deal with that large of a physicality," he says. "People said, 'What about Hugh Jackman?' Well, I was just on a plane with Hugh Jackman, and he's smaller than me and I'm smaller than Reacher. It just won't happen."

Child promises that what he's seen on the screen won't influence what he writes on the page (meaning, Reacher won't magically shrink and become a brunet in his next book, due out next year).

"I've seen that happen -- but don't worry, I've got 17 books out before the movie, soon to be 18," he notes. "The character is so secure; nothing will replace him."

 
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